09 May 2016

No safe toilet facilities for 2.4 billion people

UCL postgraduate Michael Jenkins
IChemE’s 2015 Ashok Kumar Fellow, Michael Jenkins, has completed his secondment at the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST). The UCL postgraduate has published an in-depth parliamentary briefing, or ‘Postnote’ – Access to Water and Sanitation.

The briefing reveals that almost a third of the world’s population still lack access to proper toilet facilities. Much work needs to be done if UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to achieve universal access to safe water and sanitation by 2030, are to be met.

Jenkins’ Postnote highlights the importance of sustainable global access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (WASH). It examines the way projects are financed, explaining that the annual financing from the UN for WASH projects is significantly lower than the estimated cost for successful project delivery. This suggests that national governments should take responsibility for bridging the funding gap. Jenkins stresses that projects should consider sustainability in the long-term. A 2012 EU audit, referenced in the briefing, reveals only seven out of 23 WASH projects in that year planned for financing beyond installation.

"The experience at POST has been really interesting and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I've learnt a great deal about how science can be communicated effectively to a non-specialist audience” said Jenkins. “Following my EngD I intend to pursue a career in policy formation or consultancy, and the communication skills I've developed at POST will be a significant advantage. I would definitely recommend the Fellowship to other students."

“Michael has been a fantastic addition to the POST team” added Chandrika Nath, deputy director of POST. “We were particularly happy with his briefing note as it was published in time for a parliamentary debate on water and sanitation - quite a few of the members participating in the debate took their information from his briefing.”

IChemE’s policy manager, Dr Alana Collis said: “Access to clean water and sanitation remains a pressing issue, particularly in the developing world. Chemical engineering is fundamental to the provision of sustainable water supplies, safe sanitation and the treatment of waste. Michael’s work shows that chemical engineering matters.”

The Ashok Kumar Fellowship provides an annual opportunity for a graduate chemical engineer to spend three months working at POST. It is jointly funded by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and the North-East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC). Ashok Kumar, a Fellow of IChemE and Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, UK, died suddenly in 2010. He was the only Chartered Chemical Engineer in the UK House of Commons at the time.

Michael Jenkins was awarded the fellowship in July 2015, and started his three month placement February 2016. It was also announced in February that Akshay Deshmukh would be the 2016 Fellow. Akshay is a postgraduate student at Yale University, US, and started his three month placement in May 2016 and will provide a briefing on nuclear security.

Applications are now open for the next Ashok Kumar Fellowship in 2017. The closing date for applications is 31 October 2016. Full details, including eligibility and an application form, are available from IChemE’s website.

My IChemE

IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).